Loose tresses flow down this young woman's back, with a few ropes of hair braided along the left side of her head. Hinting at her mixed heritage, her hair isn't quite black nor her skin quite tan — her complexion ever so gently sun-kissed, and her eyes shining like polished mahogany. Standing a bit shorter than most at five feet and three inches, she moves with lithe grace.
Quinn was a Westerosi woman of smallfolk stock. She procured a good marriage for herself to a successful farmer, but when she failed to produce children for him, he threw her out. Her life in shambles, the only option she was was to join the septas…until she heard rumor of a witch across the sea that had supposedly helped women like her to conceive children.
Desperate, Quinn scraped together enough coin to book passage to Volantis to seek out the witch. She was shocked to discover the maegi waiting for her in the port. The sorceress agreed to help Quinn, but her price was the women's first born child. Quinn never learned the identity of the man that the maegi produced to father her child, for he died shortly after the ritual, his life consumed to give life to the baby. Nine months later, the child was born, bearing a birthmark on her shoulder almost identical to Quinn's. The babe was sickly and weak, but the maegi claimed it nonetheless. Quinn returned to Westeros with the promise that she could give birth to another child, so long as she conceived within the next few years.
Years ago, the maegi had become indebted to a Qartheen firemage named Zahnos Joqal. She knew the baby would be born with gift for magic, and when she saw the child's affinity for fire, she decided to present the newborn to Zahnos as payment of her debt. He accepted, claiming the child and even giving her his name, calling her Kessa Joqal (though he never called her daughter). Zahnos raised Kessa and taught her his magic, instilling in her a deep respect for the power of fire.
Kessa performing her fire dance.
To Kessa, the flame was a thing of beauty, as much as any flower or bird in nature. Under Zahnos's dedicated tutelage, she developed her talent as an art form, sculpting the flames and even learning to incorporate them into dance. She was a consummate performer from an early age, and often found an audience on the streets of Qarth to earn some extra coin.
In the year of Kessa's eleventh birthday, Zahnos had a notorious feud with one of the Thirteen, the merchant lords of the city. One night he attended a meeting at the merchant's home. Nobody can say just what happened at the meeting, for the house caught ablaze, and all of those attending were caught inside. When the soldiers of the Thirteen came for her, Kessa knew better than to let herself be taken in to face whatever justice they could not inflict upon Zahnos. She fled, stowing away on a ship leaving the city.
Kessa eventually ended up in Pentos without a coin to her name. Fortunately, she knew how to earn, and soon began performing in the market. A man that saw her performance invited her to do a few shows with his people — a troupe of Westerosi mummers visiting for a festival — promising much larger crowds. She accepted, and later that evening she astonished the largest audience she had ever had. Suitably impressed, the troupe invited her to join them. Realizing that the troupe was from Westeros and would return there, she readily accepted, hoping for the opportunity to seek out her long lost mother.
In Westeros, Kessa was less obvious about her use of magic. She disguised it with props that suggested it was merely tricks and illusion.
Zahnos had told Kessa about her birthmark, and so wherever she went, she would ask the locals if they knew of a woman with the same mark. For years she bared her shoulder to strangers, until one day an old healer in a village in the Crownlands recognized it from one of her old patients. She told Kessa that the woman who bore it had sadly passed many years ago in childbirth, but directed her to the woman's family.
Kessa on the road
Kessa was heartbroken. Her mother was gone, and had apparently moved on a long time ago, marrying a tavern keeper and having another daughter — a blonde-haired girl of three years younger named Emmeline. Her quest had been in vain. Nonetheless, Kessa spent some time with Emmeline while the mummers were still in the village. She never indicated their shared maternity; she simply wanted to see what her life might have been like, and bid a final farewell to her past.
The day that the mummer troupe left the village, they didn't get very far. One of their wagons broke an axle, and it would take all day to fix it. So they made camp just a few hours from the village. As most of the troupe sat around a campfire, telling ribald jokes and stories, a young girl with blonde hair appeared and offered to share her lunch. Charmed, the troupe sat down and listened to her story of an unwanted betrothal.
Kessa believed destiny was making itself known. She had always had a particularly close relationship with the troupe's leader, so she urged him to offer Emmeline a place among them, and he did. Kessa immediately latched on to the girl, introducing her to the other members of her new family and helping her learn the ways of the traveling entertainer. Still, she kept her blood tie to Emmeline a secret, believing that he girl would find it outlandish, and perhaps even suspicious. As time went on, her concern shifted to fear that Emmeline would be upset that she kept the secret for so long, and it became more and more difficult to share the truth with her sister.
Death and Despair
Five years after bringing Emmeline into the family, a band of murderous bandits ended their bliss. They came in the night, and had killed most of the troupe by the time Kess awoke. She immediately roused Emmeline and they tried to flee along with the troupe's wounded drummer. Kess knew his injuries would slow them down and they'd all be caught. She made the drummer and Emme go on, while she stood her ground. That was the first time she ever used her powers to kill…and she killed so many that night.
Kessa tried to catch up with Emmeline, eventually locating a sept that took her and the drummer in. By the time Kess arrived, the drummer had succumbed to infection, and Emmeline had moved on, to where the septas could not say. Failing to save her family and being the cause of so much death took its toll on Kessa, and she suffered a mental breakdown. The septas tended to her, nursing her back to health. After several months, the time came for her to move on, determined that she must find her sister again.
In time, her search would bring her to Oldtown….
- Well-Traveled Mummer: For seven years (from 115 to 122), Kessa traveled with a mummer troupe full of bards, actors, acrobats, and of course her own fire-dancing and fire-breathing performance. She's even been to Oldtown before.
- Essosi: Though she can pass for Westerosi, Kessa actually spent the first eleven years of her life in Qarth, then about six months in Pentos.
- Firemage: Though she keeps it a secret, Kessa's fire "tricks" are not illusions at all, but true fire magic.
- Companionable: Kessa is warm and welcoming, always seeking new friendships.
- Worldly: Kessa has traveled all over Westeros, and several places in Essos.
- Poor Health: Since birth, Kessa has had health problems. Many are overcome with a healthy lifestyle, but she is especially susceptible to illness, and sometimes has bouts of pain in her muscles.
- Status Blind: Kessa has enjoyed a life that has allowed her to cross many social boundaries. As a result, she tends to treat both nobles and smallfolk alike, sometimes forgetting proper titles or etiquette.
- Wealth: Poor: At present, Kessa is without proper employment, and simply makes coin where she can with her performance.
Logs featuring Kessa.
Logs that refer to Kessa.